Monday, 29 August 2011

Raise your Diet Coke for a toast to the Big D: I'm finally done.

Well the Big D, and the Publishing MA, is officially over. Celebrations have been had. Diet Coke has been drunk. It’s definitely been an experience, as well as an education. The first thing I did when I finished was buy three books. Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris, because I used his views on stigma in my dissertation. Simon Morden’s Equations of life, because he said I had more front than Blackpool (it is ace, by the way, Equations that is, although Blackpool has its charm). Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind, because it was the subject of my most beguiling dissertation statistic: that 80 percent of RPG gamers cite it as their favourite book.

Because of this dissertation (aka the Big D) I’ve interviewed some of the most inspiring people in science fiction and fantasy publishing, I’ve done work experience with Voyager and Orbit and I’ve embarrassed myself at the London Book Fair (it was worth it).

This blog was started in order to force myself to do research for the Big D on a regular basis. Any news article, blog post/ tweet/ passing comment that vaguely related to my topic – the alleged stigma about science fiction and fantasy publishing - was collected and even occasionally commented on. It was a giddy ride, and at least one of you even got to journey with me on the Dissertation Express. Well this is the last stop on the whistle stop tour, and it’s time to have a coffee, maybe even a Diet Coke, and perhaps a scone, and Reflect on What I Have Learned. I think that my reader will agree that we’ve both learned so much, been occasionally moved, and even grown a little as a result of my dissertation. Oh, and if you’re wondering but you can’t face going back over the 59 painstakingly written posts on the topic: yes, there is a stigma. At least, that’s what my two markers get to find out after 21,987 words on the subject. They will simply love me.

So, without further ado, I have learned (apart from how to make the perfect toast, peanut butter, honey and banana combination):

That if you accidentally use the top image that comes up if you Google ‘Misfits series 2’, you force 649 people to read your lame-arse review.

That people who play RPGs (in one shop, on one occasion) don’t take too kindly to being called geeks.

If you follow Philip Pullman to the bathroom, he will act with dignity and aplomb and then pretend this never happened.

Orbit kicks digital-marketing ass.

China MiƩville has a giant brain.

I idolise Kate Griffin.

I really love Jim Butcher (tag stats: ‘my love for Jim Butcher’: 10 times; ‘the Dresden Files’: 3 times; ‘Chris McGrath’ cover artist: 3 times).

People are strange.

Ben Aaronovitch ticks all my boxes.

Chloe Neill’s Some Girls Bite does not.

I am not great at laminating under pressure (sorry, HarperCollins).

Hobo symbols excite me.

And finally, people do read science fiction and fantasy. They just don't always know it.

Monday, 1 August 2011

This fantasy business. Dragons and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.

*Writing from somewhere in a hermetically sealed room* With 10,000 words and three weeks to go (*reaches shakily for the Diet Coke*), I thought that this week I would treat you all to the results from my questionnaires about stigma and science fiction and fantasy publishing. While I acknowledge that it is good to provide a balanced result, I’ll happily admit that when I sent the surveys out what I ideally wanted someone to respond with was this:

‘I hate science fiction and fantasy with a passion, it’s just swords and sorcery and Tolkien/Twilight rip-offs anyways, right? I’m just grateful that it stays the hell away from our precious literary awards. My bookshelves heave with long-listed titles. If I see some middle-aged loser reading a trashy fantasy book on the tube, I move seats in case they try to invite me back to their parents’ house to play Dungeons and Dragons in their basement ‘apartment’ while their mum makes us sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Did I mention it was lowbrow?’

And repeat times 100 and I would have had full justification for writing 20,000 words on the damaging effect of stigma on the genre fiction market. HOWEVER, obviously that wasn’t going to be the case *tears up dissertation plan*, but that doesn’t mean that some of the results weren’t curious.

So, from 200 people and two different surveys, drum roll please (you'll be pleased to know I've used pie charts):


Here's the breakdown of who people view are the type of readers the market is aimed at:

And here's why people choose not to read science fiction and fantasy:
Wait for the curious part.

Prepare to squint in amazement. Here's what those same people say they've enjoyed reading:

Notice anything (apart from it being really, really small)?

That's right, eagle-eyed reader, they all contain science fiction and/or fantasy elements.

I'll leave you with my favourite response (from a good friend, I found out. Yes reader, I have a friend):

(In response to a question about which covers they prefer) ‘They all look the same – dragons and shit. I seriously wouldn’t read any of them.’

Can I put ‘shit’ in my dissertation?